The US House passed a sweeping $1.9tn Covid relief bill on Wednesday, a massive emergency relief measure that marks the first major legislative victory of Joe Biden’s presidency. The bill, passed along party lines in the House and Senate, will provide critical financial relief to millions of Americans through $1,400 stimulus checks, extend unemployment benefits in the middle of a pandemic-induced recession, and expand access to healthcare. “So naturally, Republicans are against it,” Jimmy Kimmel joked on Wednesday night.
No Republicans voted for the bill in either the House or the Senate, “even though more than 70% of Americans support it”, Kimmel continued. “The only other bill 70% of Americans support is Murray. It’s very rare to have that.”
Kimmel saw a clear reason for the stark partisan divide: “Republicans in Congress can’t support it because Democrats in Congress do support it.
“If a meteor was hurtling toward the Earth and Chuck Schumer said, ‘We’ve got to stop this,’” he added, “Mitch McConnell would be like, ‘No, we don’t. Could lead to socialism.’”
According to the Biden administration, a large number of Americans could receive their $1,400 stimulus payments before the end of March. “Do you know what that means? There’s finally going to be an end of March,” joked Stephen Colbert on the Late Show.
The relief bill is a popular legislative victory – according to polls, 75% of voters say they support the package, and Biden’s approval rating since he took office has remained steady at 57%. “Old steady Joe, he may not be as exciting as the last guy we were with, but you know, he’s good with kids, in that he cares whether they live in poverty,” Colbert said.
It’s also helpful that Biden isn’t proving to be an easy target for the GOP base. “Turns out spending a year calling someone senile and sleepy doesn’t make him a good boogeyman,” Colbert explained, citing one GOP spokesperson who claimed, “there’s just not the antipathy to Biden like there was Obama. He just doesn’t drive conservative outrage.”
“Hmm, I wonder what was different about Obama that enraged their base?” Colbert deadpanned. “Maybe the royal family knows.”
On Full Frontal, Samantha Bee investigated the role white women are playing in the perpetuation and legitimization of the QAnon conspiracy movement, the “bullshit rightwing conspiracy theory accusing Democrats and celebrities such as Tom Hanks of worshipping Satan, drinking blood and trafficking children”.
“I have to emphasize that these claims are completely baseless,” Bee added. “Tom Hanks would never do anything to harm a child! Except for making the Polar Express.”
In the last year, white women have been joining QAnon in droves, becoming the primary drivers of the conspiracy movement.
So-called “Q-A-moms”, often members of natural or holistic birth communities, have been targeted by posts about child sex trafficking conspiracies that appeal to their protective maternal instincts. These posts often don’t mention Q specifically but hint at larger conspiracies of sex trafficking cover-ups in the familiar soothing, Instagram-friendly aesthetic common to wellness ads. “Pastel QAnon”, as Bee called this recruitment method, is “at least better than the first name they gave it, which is ‘crazy bitch shit’”, she joked.
During the pandemic, “many women took to the internet to ask questions about how to keep their family safe, and landed in a pit of pseudo-scientific research that suggested masks made coronavirus worse, and that social distancing weakened the immune system”, Bee explained. “Before long, those conspiracies evolved into wilder rumors about the deep state and child trafficking.
“These kinds of theories may sound ridiculous, but as we saw during the Capitol insurrection, they have very real consequences,” she added, noting that QAnon devotee Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by Capitol police during the riot. “And QAnon’s online mommy rebrand has only caused more damage.”
And on Late Night, Seth Meyers blasted the faux cancel culture wars fomented by Fox News in the face of Biden’s popular Covid relief bill. As Congress passed a bill to provide critical aid to Americans during a pandemic, Fox News hosts such as Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity lamented the removal of Pepe Le Pew from an upcoming Space Jam sequel.
“Personally, I can’t believe Fox News is defending someone who’s French,” Meyers joked. “If this was 2003, they’d be referring to him as a ‘freedom skunk’.” For viewers too young to recall the reference, Meyers explained that it was a distant time when “conservatives canceled french fries”.
“Seriously, imagine being an actual adult and spending any amount of time at all complaining about a decades-old cartoon character being left out of a movie,” Meyers added.
“The point is, guys, there’s a pandemic raging, millions suffering or out of work, and you’re spending your time defending the Looney Tunes, the whole thing is just, well, I want to say looney tunes, but that seems redundant.”